Made to Fit

Nike has designed a shoe specifically to reflect the physical traits and cultural values of Native Americans.

By Michael Silverberg


Last fall Nike introduced the Air Native N7, the first shoe designed to fit the Native American foot. The sneaker had its genesis in 2002, when Rodney Stapp, a Dallas-area podiatrist and member of the Comanche Nation, dissected a pair of Nike’s Air Monarchs with a band saw. His patients, largely Native Americans with diabetes, didn’t fit well into most shoes, a problem that compounded the serious foot-related complications associated with the disease. (Type 2 diabetes afflicts Native Americans at twice the rate as it does Caucasians.) Stapp noticed that their (and his) feet were wider than average and bulkier at the toe, but the heels were a more typical size. The roomy Air Monarchs could be made suitable for his patients, but he wondered why there couldn’t be a shoe built specially for them.

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